Iconic Artists and Musicians Reveal How “The Chronic” Inspired Them Forever

Who’s your favorite rapper? Who’s your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper? We’ll bet a million joints that they bumped the shit out of The Chronic at some point in their life. 

“A lot of people owe their career to this album,” DJ Sway Calloway recently told NME. “There would be no Kendrick Lamar if it wasn’t for The Chronic. There would be no Game, no YG, no Nipsey Hussle.”

Dr. Dre’s seminal 1992 solo debut rocked the 213 and far, far beyond upon its release. Today, we’re witnessing the landmark album’s fourth official release, this time on all music streaming platforms worldwide. And to celebrate, MERRY JANE is hosting a special livestream at 4:20pm PST featuring a DJ set by Snoop Dogg himself. 

To support the historic occasion, MERRY JANE is diving deep into the legacy of the infamous record that changed music forever. Below, we’ll spotlight some of the most groundbreaking artists and detail how The Chronic influenced not just the way they heard music, but how they made it themselves, too. 

Kendrick Lamar

Fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar is the first and only rapper to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize, America’s highest honor for accomplishments in literature, not music. If anyone still doubted whether hip-hop was poetry, Lamar finally put that question to rest in 2018 when he won the award for his album DAMN — which just-so-happened to be executive produced by Dr. Dre, as well.

But when Lamar was still a young buck and wasn’t yet riding high across the US airwaves, he filled his head with tunes from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic

Lamar listed The Chronic as one of his top 25 favorite albums of all time. In 2012, he told Complex, “That was probably the first rap album I remember them playing in the house from top to bottom. Songs that I actually remember as a kid. That’s the start of them house parties I always talk about growing up.”

And what’s the most notable track on The Chronic according to Lamar? “Lil Ghetto Boy” for its masterful storytelling about how what a man puts into his ‘hood can come back to him — for better or worse. Fate went full circle in real life for these two hip-hop juggernauts, too: While Dre’s has produced some of Lamar’s biggest hits, Kendrick now writes many of Dre’s verses.

Dub Pistols

Just as The Chronic influenced rock and metal, it left a lasting mark on electronic music, too. 

“It’s arguably the most important album in hip-hop history,” Barry Ashworth of the UK duo Dub Pistols told NME. “It was a genre-changing moment that brought us the sound of G-funk and changed the way rap music was perceived forever. It’s a timeless classic.”

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Kimberly Willis Holt

For more on The Chronic’s connection to the history of art, check out the Juxtapoz essay by the National Book Award laureate and children’s author (yes, you read that correctly) Kimberly Holt about the album cover, which played on the Zig-Zag rolling papers’ logo. She drew a comparison between the gave-no-fucks French soldier featured on the front of every Zig-Zag pack, who, according to legend, rolled up his smokes with his musket cartridge papers after an enemy combatant shot his pipe out of his hands. 

It’s not difficult to imagine a young Dr. Dre going hard in the same way as the Zouave soldier if he lost his Phillies, too. And, y’know, if Dre also carried a musket.

DJ Sway

DJ Sway got his start in the ‘80s rapping and break-dancing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, he’s the host of Shade45’s “Sway in the Morning,” where he challenges up-and-coming and established rappers to various freestyle games to see if they really eat, shit, and breathe hip-hop — or if they just “play a rapper on TV,” as it were.

Sway’s been part of the game since its earliest days, so he not only got to experience The Chronic when it was still fresh in the record stores (remember those?), he also saw its flawless beats and impeccable rhymes echo throughout generations of producers and lyricists ever since. Here’s what he had to say about the album:

“There’s never been a better produced hip-hop album,” Sway told NME. “Dre set the bar so fucking high, it turned the world upside down.” 

Damn, we’re not sure if there’s another quote from an artist that can top Sway’s. So, we’ll leave it at that one. But we’re certain as a new generation of rappers come up, they’ll still be singing their praises to The Chronic as long as musicians are still dropping new bars. Which, hopefully, won’t stop until the end of time itself. 

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